The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 1, 1997
BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SAMUEL BERGER,
SECRETARY OF TREASURY BOB RUBIN,
PRESIDENT'S SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE AMERICAS MACK MCLARTY,
AND DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF DRUG CONTROL POLICY,
GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY
The Briefing Room
2:42 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: I've been waiting the arrival of Sandy
Berger, the President's National Security Advisor; Robert Rubin, the
Secretary of the Treasury; General Barry McCaffrey who is the
Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and Mack
McLarty, the President's Special Envoy for the Americas. They're
here to tell you more about the trip. Please do not pester the
Secretary of the Treasury with budget questions; he will not tell you
anything more than I have told you just now, so it would be useless
to spend any time in the briefing on that subject.
And I'm happy to turn it over to you.
Q Will he tell us what the FBI told him about the
MR. MCCURRY: I did that one for Sandy's behalf
yesterday, so don't ask him about that either.
MR. BERGER: In response to your overwhelming questions
about the trip -- (laughter) -- let us now turn to the upcoming trip
to Latin America. This is a trip beginning on Monday. It is the
first of three trips the President will make to Latin America over
the next year. This trip will involve Mexico, Costa Rica where he
will meet with all of the Central American Presidents, and the
Caribbean, where he will meet with the Caribbean leaders. This is
part of a very intensive effort that the President really launched in
Miami back in 1994 and is now carrying forward with great intensity I
think into the second term.
This is a moment of great possibility in the Americas,
because the Americas are coming together around values that we share.
And it is really -- we've focused an enormous amount of thought and
attention on what's happened in Central Europe over the last decade.
But what has happened in our own hemisphere over the same period is
Now, we have every nation a democracy, whereas 10 years
ago we were dealing in many cases with authoritarian dictatorships.
We had civil wars, certainly through Central America; we now have
governments, largely democratically elected, focusing on economic
development and sustainable projects in the environment and other
things for their people.
This region and its future is extraordinarily important
to the United States. Because it is our neighbor, because it is an
area where there is now a convergence of values and interests, we
have a tremendous opportunity over the next several years for the
United States. It is a opportunity for political alignment as well
as economic growth.
The scenario that is now very rapidly growing, very
rapidly integrating, but it will -- it will continue to integrate.
It will not necessarily integrate with the United States unless we
are proactive in that respect. I would point out, for example, that
the Mercosur countries in South America, for the first time in 1996
sold more to -- purchased more from the EU than the United States.
So we have to be aggressive in cultivating the trends in our own
hemisphere that are extraordinarily compatible with our interests.
Let me very quickly walk through each stop, and then ask
Mack McLarty to put this in a little broader context in terms of the
The U.S.-Mexican relationship I think arguably is the
deepest and broadest of any relationship that the United States has.
We have a 2,000-mile border; whether it is jobs or growth or
environment or drugs or migration we are -- our destinies, our fates,
our well-being is inextricably intertwined. By the same token, the
problems that we have defy unilateral solutions. All of the problems
that I've talked about really what happens there matters to us, what
happens here matters to them.
Now, the President will be arriving in Mexico and after
meeting with President Zedillo will be joining a meeting of the
binational commission. This is a structure set up several years ago,
chaired by the Secretary of State on our side; chaired by the Foreign
Minister on the Mexican side. And there will be quite a collection
of Cabinet officials from the United States government and from the
Mexican government who will have been meeting since Monday in a
series of working groups dealing with education, dealing with the
environment, dealing with drugs, dealing with migration. And as in
the past, this is a group that meets periodically and, as in the
past, has moved our cooperation forward, and we hope that that will
happen at this next meeting.
The two Presidents will join that meeting and will
listen to and receive the reports from General McCaffrey and from
Secretary Albright and others on the various areas that I've
discussed and what has been accomplished in those areas. The
President will have a press conference and talk about the range of
issues involved in our relationship.
Second day in Mexico will be one in which he goes off to
a village and will be -- the major event of that day will be a speech
that he gives to the Mexican people, and then a trip out of Mexico
City, where he will be in a more informal setting in a village
outside of Mexico City.
We then go on to Costa Rica where all of the heads of
Central America will be gathered. Again, I would urge you to pause
for a moment and think about -- if I was standing here 10 years ago
talking about Central America, I would have been talking about the
war in Nicaragua, the war in El Salvador, the war in Guatemala, I
would have been talking about military regimes that were dominant and
sometimes repressive. And in each of these places, we now have
democratically-elected civilian regimes that are moving to an
entirely new agenda, and they want to get on with the future.
And this is what the summit meeting that will take place
in Costa Rica will talk about. They'll take about trade and
immigration and environmental issues. And the second day, the
President will go out and visit an environmental area in Costa Rica,
which has been one of the leaders in developing its parks and
developing a program of sustainable environment, which was a regional
initiative that was launched in connection with Miami, if you recall,
back in 1994.
And then the final stop is in Barbados where, for the
first time ever, an American President will have a summit meeting
with all of the democratic leaders of the Caribbean nations. This
has never happened before. And it's really a statement by this
President that we are a Caribbean nation and that we want the new
kind of partnership with -- it doesn't seem that way in Washington, I
know, but if you go a little farther south -- and that we want a
different kind of partnership with the Caribbean than has taken place
before. And there will be a discussion among them of issues where we
can intensify our cooperation on law enforcement and security, on
trade and development, and on a range of other issues.
And then the President, I believe, will stay on for a
few days, and back on Monday. We will come back on Saturday.
But if you look at this in its larger terms, it's part
of a larger initiative building on the Summit of the Americas of '94
to take advantage of the extraordinary developments that are taking
place in our own hemisphere for the benefit of the American people.
Now, let's just go -- why don't we go through the
presentations and then we'll come back.
MR. MCLARTY: Sandy, thank you.
As Sandy noted, this will be the first of three trips
the President will make to the hemisphere in the next 12 months,
beginning with our closest neighbors to the south, which Sandy
outlined. And then in the fall, we'll be traveling to Brazil,
Argentina, Venezuela. And this really is a journey, the path, if you
will, to the convening of the next Summit of Americas -- 34
democratically-elected heads of state in Santiago, Chile in early 1998.
Now, the obvious point here is, this is a very high
degree presidential engagement in intensity and focus in the region.
And we clearly think the President is committed to -- this is in the
direct interest of the American people.
Sandy outlined, I think, the fact that the President has
seen, beginning with the Summit of the Americas in 1994 -- I have
certainly seen it on my 30 trips to region in the last two years --
an emerging alliance based on interest and values, as well as
history, geography and culture. And there is clearly becoming a new
reality in the region. And you can step back and compare the civil
wars, the insurgencies, the dictatorships to the democracies and the
open markets that we are now finding in the peace and the stability
that is really promoted throughout the region.
It's a time of promise and increasing confidence in the
region. The President feels very strongly that this is an historic
opportunity in a true era of possibility. But the transition to open
market democracies and the key point of this intense engagement in
the next 12 months -- the transition is not complete. Indeed, we are at
a delicate time in a transition period. The events, the
circumstances, are positive, but the ultimate direction is not yet
fully fixed. And the real question in the region is can democracy
that has moved through the region -- can democracy really deliver to
the people of the Americas.
Our efforts are part of a continuing and a comprehensive
strategy that began with the Summit of the Americas in 1994. It has
continued with the supporting of democracy in the region in Haiti; in
Paraquay, where we worked closely with the Mercosur Group go avert a
constitutional crisis there; and in Guatemala and Central America,
the first time that region has seen peace in 36 years. We have also
seen a sustained effort regarding trade with the passage of the NAFTA
and with the centerpiece of the Miami Summit, the free trade area of
the Americas by the year 2005.
This is a natural market for us, which Secretary Rubin
will comment on in his presentation. But succinctly put, our exports
are growing at about twice the rate in the hemisphere as they are in
any other region in the world. In one statistic, last year United
States investment in Brazil was $7 billion. I think that underscores
the amount of trade and commerce and investment that has taken place.
The President has commented that the enemy of our time
is inaction, and truly, this is a missed opportunity without this
kind of presidential engagement and intensity to deepen our
relationship in the region and to capitalize on market opportunities.
And as I said earlier, our efforts here directly impact the
well-being of our citizens and our futures.
The issues that we see in the hemisphere are the issues
that come home to Americans, whether they be on the economic side or
whether they be on the issues of concern on the challenge side,
including narcotics, narcotics trafficking -- of course, General
McCaffrey will speak to that -- the complicated issue of immigration
or environment degradation.
In short, we have an opportunity to establish and deepen
a remarkable partnership, a partnership based on mutual respect and
on mutual trust. And I firmly believe that with this kind of
emphasis and effort, that the Americas truly have the potential to be
the cornerstone, if you will, for our security and our prosperity in
years to come.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, just a couple of brief
remarks. We'll -- obviously, drugs will be a major component of our
interaction on the trip. The Mexico portion -- a binational
commission will go down and address security issues, justice issues.
At the end of Monday we're going to have a session of the high-level
contact group, the oversight group, where Secretary Albright and the
Deputy Secretary of Treasury and the Attorney General and I will meet
with our Mexican counterparts and try and pin down some of the rather
extensive cooperation that is ongoing with Mexico.
On Tuesday, both the Attorney General of Mexico, Madrazo
and I will try and report out to the President and give him some --
the two Presidents some sense of where we are. Then there will be
other discussions -- both the Attorney General and the Secretary of
State and I while we're down there.
Central America -- another problem -- the Transit Zone
-- a lot of these drugs are moving at sea now, not by land. But
having said all that, there's still an enormous amount of
inter-American highway traffic involving cocaine movement and indeed an
enormous threat to the people of Costa Rica; Guatemala; Panama, in
particular in terms of money laundering and drug abuse in their own
societies. So I think that will be one aspect of the discussion
among the chiefs of state in that visit.
And then, finally, Barbados. Both Mack McLarty and I
just got back from a ministerial session there to try and look at the
very real concerns of the Caribbean nations to this enormous
onslaught of cocaine in particular coming out of Colombia,
principally through Venezuela or by sea. It's having a devastating
impact not only in the obvious gun smuggling, drug smuggling, money
laundering violence and corruption, but indeed in the addiction of
people in Caribbean Islands themselves.
So, all three stops, we think drug abuse and its
consequences will be a common discussion item. Now, it's sensitized
by two obvious things that have happened. One was the Organization
of American States had the SICAD meeting and all 32 drug ministers --
whoever has the portfolio -- came together. Ambassador Hattie
Babbitt and I and the Attorney General and others were involved with
that OAS session and had some very useful and detailed exchanges of
views on where we needed to go.
And the second issue was certification, which has,
without question, raised the whole notion of partnership and the
requirement that many of feel is at the heart and soul of the
President's drug strategy, which is to work in some notion of
multinational cooperation. So that will be a constant theme, I would
suggest, in all three visits.
We expect that in Mexico, in particular, that we will
try and achieve some incremental steps -- agreements. We'll be
looking toward the future, and we'll be trying to build on a lot of
the work that's gone on in the last year.
On that note, thanks very much.
SECRETARY RUBIN: Thank you, Barry, for the
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It's probably the best one you've
SECRETARY RUBIN: It is the best one I've had actually in
the last couple of days, at least. (Laughter.)
In any event, America's economic relationship with
Mexico is now one of our most important partnerships in the world.
Mexico is our third largest trading partner, and without question,
the economic well-being of millions of Americans are affected
directly or indirectly by our trade with Mexico.
In 1996, 76 percent of Mexico's imports came from the
United States. Clearly a stable, prosperous Mexico is very important
to us, economically, and it's also very important to us in terms of
our national security.
The President's trip to Mexico highlights some very good
news. The financial crisis of 1995, which was a very severe and very
threatening crisis is now over. Our emergency support program, plus
the really quite remarkable, I think, political courage and resolve
of the Mexican leadership have resulted in the conditions that
produced that crisis, now having been dealt with effectively and no
longer in existence.
Our loan has been fully repaid, as you know. In
addition, the American taxpayers made a rather substantial profit on
that loan. Mexico had the breathing space to get its economic house
in order and Mexico did exactly that.
Last year, Mexico grew about five percent, which is in
excess of private sector forecasts, and growth is expected to be at
good, solid levels this year. Unemployment and inflation are down;
financial stability, monetary and fiscal policy are both back on
There are great economic challenges facing Mexico and we
continue to work very closely with the Mexican government. On the
other hand, a great deal has been accomplished. Let me make one
comment, if I may, about NAFTA. I think without any question, NAFTA
continues to work to the benefit of both countries. And beyond that,
I think NAFTA really proved its mettle during the crisis. In fact, I
think that NAFTA was even more important during the crisis than it is
in normal times, because NAFTA created an integration with the global
economy, which in turn was a very strong inducement to the Mexican
government to deal with this crisis to reform, which has worked,
rather than doing what they did in 1982 when they increased tariffs
by 100 percent, became a more statist economy. And it took them seven
years to get back into the international economic markets --
global financial markets, as opposed to the seven months it took them
Our exports in every year that NAFTA has been in effect
have grown as a percentage. Our exports to Mexico have grown as a
percentage of their total imports, and our exports to Mexico are now
at record levels.
Having said all that, clearly Mexico faces very great
challenges ahead, and we expect to continue working effectively and
cooperatively with the Mexican government as they continue to pursue
sound macroeconomic policies, structural reform and very importantly,
working to make sure that all Mexicans ensure the benefit of their
Let me also say, as Barry McCaffrey said, that we look
forward to continuing to work with the Mexican government with
respect to law enforcement. And just to wear my Treasury hat for the
moment, we have in the past commented on the successful -- the
progress that we have had in the money-laundering area. We hope to
continue working and expect to continue working with the Mexican
government in this area and also on improving drug interdiction.
I very much look forward to being in Mexico as part of
the President's team and working with our counterparts for the
benefit of Mexico but also very much for the benefit of the United
Q Sandy, why has it taken until the fifth year of his
presidency for the President to go to Mexico, our biggest -- you
know, our neighbor to the south and visit these other areas? And,
secondly, what agreements do you expect? General McCaffrey touched
on some drug things. What agreements do you expect to come out of
this trip? Could you outline them?
MR. BERGER: Well, first of all, on the first question,
I think the President wishes that he could have gone earlier, but we
certainly have had, as Mack has suggested, a very active policy with
respect to Latin America. During the first term, the President has
met with most of these leaders. He convened the first ever Summit of
the Americas in Miami, and there has been an active engagement and
sort of a laying of a foundation in the first term, but I think his
feeling now is this is the moment where we have to move to really
We'll have to wait and see in terms of agreements. I
would hope that, coming out of the binational commission and in
Mexico there will be progress made in the area of narcotics, in the
area of immigration, in the area of environment, education, and
across the board. Each of these subgroups, hopefully will move the
ball forward in terms of a very, very broad relationship. And I'm
not sure that any one of these agreements, in an of themselves, will
dramatic. But I think when you accumulate the steady progress that's
being made on all of these fronts, it will be a solid record.
Q You mentioned the binational commission meeting.
One member of President Zedillo's Cabinet was arrested in February
and found to be living under the same roof as one of Mexico's worst
drug lords. Another member of his Cabinet, the attorney general,
resigned and now he claims that President Zedillo knew about this
corruption. When you sit across the table from these people, what
assurance can you have that they can be trusted to cooperate with the
United States on matters like drug enforcement?
MR. BERGER: I think -- let me answer first, and then if
Mack or Barry want to add anything -- that you judge President
Zedillo by his actions. I mean, this is a President who has said
that the number one national security threat to his country is drugs.
And when he found the general that you referred to, was allegedly
engaged with drug-trafficking, he arrested him immediately, even
though that came a week or so before our certification debate; it may
have been convenient for that not to happen so quickly. He moved
swiftly when he had the information to arrest this gentleman and he's
now in prison.
I think we have a high level of confidence in the
Zedillo government in terms of what they've done on the economic
front, what they're seeking to do on the narcotics front, and what
they're doing on the political front, which is moving that country
towards a multi-party democracy from what has been a one-party
Q If I could follow up with a specific on that, Raul
Salinas has been in jail for something like two years now and the
United States has repeatedly tried to get access to him to talk to
him about some matters involving United States violations in a number
of money-laundering cases. How can you talk about cooperation when
federal prosecutors can't even get in to talk to a key figure who had
tried to intervene?
MR. BERGER: I don't know -- I'll ask Barry or someone
else to comment on the Salinas case in particular, but you have to
look at cooperation. Is there corruption in the Mexican system? I
think that President Zedillo would be the first to acknowledge that
there is. But when you look at what he is seeking to do just today
or yesterday announced -- and Barry can comment on this more -- the
dismantling of their drug police, an effort to build an entirely new,
vetted, more professional drug police. Twelve hundred members of the
police last year were fired for alleged corruption. I think this is
a government that understands the problem, understands the threat.
And we have to deal with this cooperatively. We --
Q Are you satisfied with the level of cooperation
they're giving you?
MR. BERGER: I think there is an unprecedented level of
cooperation, and we want to see more. But let me ask Barry to
comment on this.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: To be direct, it seems to me you
have to put it in context -- it's not whether there's violence and
corruption -- there is, massive amounts. And I might add -- on both
sides of the border. There isn't symmetry to this argument, but I'm
always concerned a bit about creative hypocrisy because it's $49
billion of U.S. money on drugs that is acting as an engine drawing 60
percent of our own cocaine, marijuana, heroine coming through Mexico
or adjoining Pacific or Caribbean waters.
Now, having said that, we've watched Mexican police lose
literally hundreds of officers, murdered in the line of duty.
They've had 25 major assassinations. There is no question that their
democratic institutions are under attack from within. It is our own
view that Madrazo, Cervantes, the President are trying to deal with
this problem, and that it seems to us that cooperating not only with
the judicial systems and the armed forces, but also with these
binational task forces that we're putting together is the best way to
protect both people.
Q What about access to drug traffickers like Salinas
for U.S. prosecutors?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, we've had -- these are all
attorney general to attorney general matters. They're not political
judgments, but case by case. Extradition works that way. There's a
packet with a person's name on it, and it either meets or doesn't
meet the legal requirements of the other country. There has been
cooperation on sharing of evidence and intelligence, training. We
are indeed in contact with these people.
And I -- just to reiterate the point about Guitierrez
Rebollo who is apparently a thug working for one criminal gang
against other criminal gangs, the INCD director. The Mexicans picked
up on this, arrested him and put him in the slammer 62 days after
they put him in office. This was a bigger psychological blow to
Mexican confidence than probably anything that's happened to them in
years. But they did face up to it. They're trying to roll up his
gang right now. And we're watching that, trying to support their own
efforts. They just arrested another general who had offered a bribe,
alleged, of a $1 million a week to not do the guy's job.
So, this is a very serious challenge, but we think
they're struggling for their own democratic institutions.
Q I would like to ask you about the immigration
problem. In the past, every time an American President has gone to
Mexico and immigration has been on the agenda -- always very low --
the Mexican President, whoever is in power at the time, has always
said, that's your problem to the U.S. President. How cooperative are
they on the question of illegal immigration?
MR. BERGER: Well, we are -- there's a great deal of
cooperation that is taking place. I wish Doris Meissner were here to
go into more detail with you, but there is a strong cooperative
relationship on working together to stop illegal immigration. And
there will be specific discussion while we are in Mexico about ways
to make that stronger.
We have new legislation, as you know -- excuse us -- new
tools to deal with illegal immigration, some
aspects of that law have created some concerns in Mexico and
elsewhere in Latin America, and we'll try to deal with those. But I
think the cooperation with the Mexican government has been strong in
Q Sandy, do you think that the political timing of
this in Mexico right now, in terms of the coming election, could be
send the wrong message to the Mexican people, seeing the President of
the United States meeting with President Zedillo and supporting all
his economic and political ideas?
MR. BERGER: Well, we're going to Mexico because of the
extraordinarily important relationship that the four of us have been
talking about. This meeting was originally scheduled for earlier and
was postponed a bit because of the President's injury. But we are
going to Mexico to meet with the Mexican government to talk about
ways in which we can cooperate together. We're not going to become
engaged in internal Mexican political debates or discussions. There
is an election going on for the legislature in July. But if we
didn't go anywhere when there was a pending election, we wouldn't go
Q Sandy, could I just follow up with the first
question that Terry asked? This is year five of the presidency and
you say the President regrets the fact that he couldn't go south of
the border earlier. Why couldn't he go south of the border earlier? If
it's such an important area to the United States --
MR. BERGER: Let's look what this President did with
respect to Latin America in the first term. Number one, he committed
himself to getting NAFTA completed. He had one of the most intensive
legislative struggles of the first term, against opposition within
his own party and, to some degree, the other party -- and we won.
And we created a North American Free Trade Agreement. Number one.
Number two, for the first time ever, the President
convened a summit of all of the Latin American leaders, in Miami.
This was historic, and we worked on it for a year. Mack was very
instrumental in it. And it charted a course of cooperation that
committed the hemisphere to many things -- on democracy, on political
and environmental development and on free trade by the year 2005.
And has met over this period with virtually every Latin American
So we've traveled quite a bit in the first term. We
weren't able to make a trip to Latin America, but we will do it this
year. But I think the Latin Americans -- I should say one other
thing, and that is the Mexican peso crisis where, once again, not only
Mexico but all of Latin America and perhaps much of the
developing world was imperiled by the imminent collapse of the peso.
And the President, once again, against the overwhelming feeling on
the Hill and the fairly broad feeling in the country, made a
commitment to step in and provide some economic support.
So I don't think there is any question of this
President's commitment to Latin America. I don't think there is any
question in Latin America to his commitment. I think he now wants to
move it another step forward in terms of building the kind of
alliances that Mack and Barry and Bob have talked about.
Q Mr. Secretary, forgive me for being imprudent and
not following Mike McCurry's advice, but obviously the budget talks
are a central focus with a lot of people today. Where do we stand on
those? And is there likely to be an agreement, if not today,
SECRETARY RUBIN: I think I'll stick with -- I didn't
hear Mike's comments, but I think the best thing to do is to say
we've all been up on the Hill -- I was up there all morning. And
when, as, and if there is something to say, there will be appropriate
people to say it.
Q But can you give us some sense of where things
SECRETARY RUBIN: I really don't -- I think better to
leave it be where it is. And when, as, and if there is something to
say, as I said, there will be somebody to say it.
Q Mr. Rubin, do you expect to hear during this trip
from the majority of the leaders that you'll meet, that if fast-track
authority is not given to your administration, that these countries
will accelerate their efforts to create trading relationships among
SECRETARY RUBIN: Well, I think Mack McLarty said it
Q Well, I would be happy to ask --
SECRETARY RUBIN: No, no. I was going to repeat what I
think he said. (Laughter.) No, I think Mack said it very well. The
world isn't going to wait for us. They're going to form regional
agreements amongst countries and they're going to form sectoral
agreements around sectors and we're going to be part of it or not
part of it, and clearly, our economic self-interest relies on being
part of it and that require fast track authority.
Q -- but the question is, what will you be telling
them when you're down there about fast track --
SECRETARY RUBIN: We're going to tell them we are
committed to getting fast track authority, we're going to do
everything we can to get it.
Q Can I follow up on something the General mentioned
when you were up there? You mentioned that you're considering a
multilateral approach to verification. Is that something that's
actively under discussion now? Is that something the President is
likely to discuss?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I think from the start, when
the President put out the National Drug Strategy, two of the five
goals deal with cooperation with our partners, and so from the start, we
have suggested the President had me go up and be the U.S.
delegation chief to ECOSOC, to work with UNDCP at the United Nations.
He has had me go to and address and take part in the deliberation of
the OAS SICOD, and then finally it's been our viewpoint from the
start that particularly on this upcoming trip, that we could
underscore that -- we're a Caribbean nation, so the drug problem and
gun smuggling and money laundering and the violence that comes from
drugs is a Caribbean regional problem. That's really where we think
we have to go with it.
Q -- process in which the U.S. would have one vote
among many votes, about whether a country would be certified --
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, certainly, if it's done in the
context of the OAS, that's exactly what we mean. There would be some
cooperative arrangement of partners.
Q -- do you think that the Mexicans dismantle their
version of U.S. enforcement in drug administration, and what do you
think this new entity that they have created -- is that, like some
critics say, pure aesthetics, or is there some content about it? I
mean, there's some reality about it?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I listened to the
announcement. I had been privy to some of their own thinking when
Mr. Berger and McLarty and I had been there on earlier trips. I
think they're persuaded that INCD has been mortally wounded as a
police agency, they have said publicly they intend to do something
about this. The Attorney General Madrazo, a human rights lawyer, has
selected a new officer of government and they're going to start from
the ground up, and they have a system they have devised of drug tests
and polygraph tests and financial disclosures, they've got some 90
agents now and they're going to move ahead and try and protect the
Mexican people with a new, non-corrupted drug police force.
Q Will there be a decision --
Q Is there new cooperation with the United States
with this new entity?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I think we're going to offer
partnership and support. This has to be Mexican thinking and Mexican
leadership. But if there is some way we can support their efforts,
Q Will there be a decision by the end of this -- by
the time this trip goes forward about how the United States is going
to crack down on the use of Mexican financial institutions by drug
money-launderers, that whole sort of broad thing that was sketched
out, I think, in The New York Times a couple weeks ago?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: This is Secretary Rubin's area. We've
been working for a year. He's got computers down there, training
packages. We're supporting them to put together the mechanism to
enforce their brand new money-laundering legislation from last May
and their organized crime legislation from November. So, in fact,
there are real people on the ground.
Q I'm talking about the freezing of their assets in
the U.S. in trying to work at it from not allowing them to be --
people who are suspected money launderers being involved in U.S.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I'm not too sure I want to --
MR. BERGER: That report is something that's being
looked at within the United States government and I don't anticipate
anything happening in the near future.
Q Sandy, are you satisfied that FBI Director Freeh
and the Justice Department are telling you everything that they're
MR. BERGER: Let's keep this to Mexico.
Q Sandy, can I ask you one more question about
Mexico? There was a story yesterday saying that there's some
concerns about human rights violations within Mexico --
MR. BERGER: There was a story yesterday about some
individuals who apparently were asked to leave Mexico. I think -- I
don't know the details of the particular circumstance, but I do think
you have to put it in context of a country that is going through
quite a historic transition from one-party government to multi-party
democracy. Fully 30 percent now of the people of Mexico at the state
and local level live with governors or local officials from
opposition parties. That's a remarkable change. And there is
overall -- obviously, we've always been concerned about human rights
situations in all countries and we comment on them when appropriate.
But the overall picture here is one of a country that is undergoing
President Clinton's Trip to Mexico, Costa Rica,
3:21 P.M. EDT